April 15th, 2010
07:58 PM ET

Obama orders hospital visit rights for gays, lesbians

[Updated at 7:57 p.m.] The president's memo Thursday notes that "There are few moments in our lives that call for great compassion and companionship that when a loved one is admitted to the hospital ... Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides ..."

Read the president's memorandum (PDF)

Gay and lesbian Americans are "uniquely affected" by the relatives-only policy at hospitals, Obama said, adding that they "are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives - unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated."

The president listed widowers without children and members of certain religious orders among those who suffer under the policy.

Read the full CNN.com story

[Posted at 7:49 p.m.] President Barack Obama has told the Department of  Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would not allow hospitals to deny visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Gay and lesbian • Health • Politics
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Sonia from the south

    Thank u Mr. Prez! This has always been a concern of mine especially as a police officer never knowing what might happen as I am prone moreso to unexpected traumas. My partner of 11 years and I will feel so much more secure. And yes, we have all the papers an attorney can provide, but fighting red tape in a desperate time is uncalled for.

    April 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rex bruce

    I have been with the same partner for ten years. This kind of stuff boggles my mind. Aren't Civil Rights for everyone? The list of inequities is surprisingly long. Thank you Mr. Prez, I am a total fan!

    April 15, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jo

    Many time we have not had a problem with this. However, emergency rooms and icu's often hold to the rule. We too have legal medical power of attorney for each other, but when your rushing from work to an ER, there may not be time to get proof. Thank you mr. President

    April 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Melissa

    I respect the move of compassion for this basic human right. Well done. Let's move toward giving effective health care to those that may need interpreters (we do count them in our census).

    April 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Martin Russell

    It's about darn time.
    Now, what about our partners who are in another country and cannot stay here with us, who are retired and financially able enough to keep from displacing any citizens or costing the USA anything, and would augment the USA with their funds instead of wasting it on trips back and forth from 7,000 miles away.
    Thank you, Mr. President.
    At last, a leader who is willing to face some of these ancient dragons.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimmy

    "You know, this is a pretty common-sense thing to do, I don't see why everyone is praising Obama like he's some sort of genius. I could have done this.
    Posted by: sbtim"

    Well sbtim, it's 2010, and how many presidents before now failed to recognize this simple human right? We're praising him because he did it.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jo

    The hospital I work for already has a policy that states essentially that "Family is defined by the patient. It is who he/she wants at his/her bedside". This was happening long before this president decided it should happen.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    I did not know that this type of problem even existed till now. Anyone with two legs and two arms should not be treated any different than anyone else.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aaron

    @Peter, this has been an issue for decades! And if you had read the memorandum, you'd see that it covers "non-gay" partners. If you don't think this is a big deal, why do you care?

    April 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. A Very Happy Taxpaying Citizen

    President Obama,

    Thank you from the depths of my soul. I have close friends who recently suffered from this gross injustice in the state of Florida where we have Amendment 2.... it's a tragedy when hospital staff blatantly refuse loving partners access to each other during a time of need.

    I thank you on behalf of everyone who has ever suffered because of this, or has had a family member or friend who has. I am so glad we no longer have to suffer in silence and be told to "just wait". Thank you....thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    April 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TRE

    Yay! Finally, two consenting adults who love each other can gain access to the ICU room when it matters most. Thanks, Obama!!!

    April 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Abd-al-Latif

    Paying off the special-interest groups who helped elect him...no big surprise.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jaber

    This issue has been one of my biggest fears. For either of us to be in the hospital – alone, sick and frightened. And then to be denied access to the one person who could bring me comfort, love and support. Thank you, dear President Obama. Thank you.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mimi

    Thank you Mr. President. I have family and friends who now will not be denied access to their partners at such a traumatic time. Compassion for others – especially for others not exactly like ourselves – is truly moral. This is, I hope, the beginning of our nation's move toward becoming an inclusive and humane society. It's been a long time coming.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jay

    Big yawn. Hospitals already pretty much did this anyway. He's just throwing a bone to his base using federal money as a bait just in case there's a hospital somewhere that might not comply.

    He's acting like a bureaucrat - nothing more.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
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